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Show Me the Money, All of the Money

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This week, the Trump Administration released its Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out from here and that’s because there are so many questions that have not been answered about funding. The proposed legislation includes much more than roads, highways, and bridges. It also mentions water and wastewater systems, energy, public lands, and Brownfield and Superfund sites.

The Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) listed some of the major features of the plan:

  • $200 billion in total funding that will be offset by cuts to federal programs (in other words, no new revenue streams for the Highway Trust Fund or other infrastructure programs);
  • Incentivizing states and localities to take on greater responsibility in the design, build, and maintenance of infrastructure projects ($100 billion);
  • Establishing a “Rural Infrastructure Program” ($50 billion) for capital investments in rural infrastructure investments and a “Transformative Projects Program” ($20 billion) to fund “ambitious, exploratory, and ground-breaking project ideas that have significantly more risk than standard infrastructure projects, but offer a much larger reward profile”; 
  • Expanding the use of private activity bonds (PABs) and existing federal credit programs, including Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) ($20 billion);
  • Providing greater flexibility to toll on interstates and streamlines the permitting process by establishing a “One Agency, One Decision” environmental review structure;
  • Encouraging reforms to address the nation’s skills gap, including expanding the use of Pell Grants to short-term programs that lead to a credential or certification in in-demand fields and modernizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) program

AED’s president Brian McGuire reacted to the plan by saying, “I commend President Trump for focusing on rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The administration’s proposal is just the start of the conversation. It’s now Congress’ responsibility to pass legislation that incorporates many of the principles outlined by the president combined with substantial, sustained investment and new revenue to provide long-term certainty to the construction industry. Americans are craving bipartisan leadership and this will show the country that Washington is serious about rebuilding our infrastructure. It’s time to turn words into action for America.”

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The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Stephen Sandherr, says, “The President has outlined a needed and thought-provoking proposal to rebuild and improve the nation’s aging and over-burdened public infrastructure. The details of this proposal are important and many, including this association, will seek changes to further improve upon the President’s concept. Yet the most significant aspect of today’s release is that it signals the start of what should be a timely, bipartisan, and bicameral process to identify the best ways to fund and finance desperately needed improvements to our public infrastructure. “

He continued, “At the same time, as the President’s own proposal makes clear, Congress must identify ways to address chronic funding shortfalls affecting the federal Highway Trust Fund that have put needed highway, bridge, and transit improvements at risk too many times during the past decade. And Congress must also identify effective and long-term ways to fund other infrastructure improvements that are just as vital to our continued economic success as is the surface transportation program.”

And here is the statement issued by Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) president Dennis Slater:

“Equipment manufacturers welcome the introduction of President Trump’s infrastructure proposal today. It should serve as an important starting point for serious debate in Congress, given that an overwhelming majority of Americans wants for Washington to act on infrastructure this year.

The White House plan includes a number of important elements. Equipment manufacturers applaud the “One Agency, One Decision” initiative to reduce permitting time on projects to 24 months, as well as their request to create designated funds to support rural infrastructure development and transformative infrastructure projects. The industry is also encouraged by the inclusion of a proposal to help train our manufacturing and construction workforce in charge of building America’s infrastructure.

However, the Trump administration’s proposal does not solve our nation’s underlying infrastructure issues, including the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and other programs to support our utility, water, and aviation infrastructure.”

They all know that any movement forward on infrastructure is a good thing. But they also know of the dire need for permanent funding.

Do you believe the “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America” can work? GX_bug_web

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